In Florida, the only automobile insurance that is required is Personal Injury Protection (PIP), also known as No Fault coverage. If you are injured, this coverage will pay up to $10,000.00 provided your injury is diagnosed as an emergency medical condition regardless of whose fault the accident may be. If not diagnosed as such, then it only provides coverage up to $2,500.00. This coverage will pay 80% of your medical bills and 60% of your lost wages up to the limit of $10,000.00 if the injury is deemed an emergency medical condition.
Unfortunately, injuries are often greater than the PIP coverage available. What if you are injured in an accident seriously enough to be hospitalized? Clearly this is an expensive proposition, but you have to consider other things like missing work and continuing therapy once you are released.
Obviously, having health insurance will help cover treatment cost that exceed PIP. But in this day and age, deductibles, co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses can be quite high leaving a potential gap in coverage for necessary treatment.
Is there a such thing as “full coverage”?
When I meet with a new client and ask what automobile insurance coverage they have, I am often told “I have full coverage”. But when asked what that means almost everyone that says that can’t tell me what that means. In Florida, it often turns out to be only the required PIP coverage.
Add to that the fact that, according to a number of studies, including one by the Insurance Research Council, almost 1 in 4 drivers in Florida has no insurance. So how do you protect yourself from drivers with little or no bodily injury (BI) coverage? The best answer is to purchase Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist, also known as UM, coverage on your automobile insurance policy.
What are the benefits of having UM Coverage?
UM coverage can help cover legitimate medical expenses when the person that hit you has inadequate or no BI coverage. Because Florida doesn’t require driver to carry BI coverage, you need to look out for yourself. You have the option of purchasing the UM coverage. Many people elect not to purchase this coverage just to save a few dollars in the premium. Check with your agent or carrier to see how much this additional coverage will cost. The premium will depend on how much coverage you want and whether that coverage is “stacked” or “unstacked”. In the event that UM coverage comes into play, you need to see if the coverage is stacked or non-stacked. For example, if you have 25/50 coverage ($25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident) then the UM is likely $25,000 unless you opted for a different amount. Again, different, then it must be in writing and signed by the covered person. Additionally, let’s say you own three (3) vehicles. If the UM coverage is stacked, then there is 3 (the number of vehicles covered) times the UM coverage, or, $75,000.
Were you offered to option of purchasing UM Coverage?
If you are in an accident and are told that you did not get UM coverage, you need to ask to see a copy of the UM rejection form. Florida law requires that an insurance company offer you UM and that you specifically reject it by signing a standard form. This rejection may now be signed electronically. But you need to be sure to check this rejection form for any inconsistencies or errors if you don’t agree with the coverage based on what you thought you had.
It shouldn’t be difficult to make a claim again your own insurance, that is why you have it!
What surprises me is that many people are hesitant to make a claim under the UM provisions of their auto insurance policy. They just don’t want to make a claim against their own insurance company. When this happens I asked them why they purchased that coverage and it is always to protect themselves in the event there is too little or no coverage. Once I point out that is exactly what has happened they then accept the need to make a claim.
Pursuing a claim against your own insurance company is not any different, nor easier, than making a claim against the insurance company for the at fault party. You would be wise to seek the assistance of an attorney to pursue a BI claim and/or a UM claim.
For more information if you have a claim, call (863) 299-1962 or visit us at brookslawgroup.com.